Million Dollar Quartet – Review – Leeds Grand
Million Dollar Quartet – Review
Leeds Grand, November 2016
by Sarah Churcher
In 1956, one of the best albums ever made is accidentally recorded at Sun Records studio in Memphis, Tennessee. This production, by Colin Escott and Floyd Mutrux, manages to capture the spontaneity of the occasion, along with the poignant stories of the four singing sensations, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis. All of whom Sam Phillips later turns in to world famous rock and roll stars.
The story is told on the set of the studio and only occasionally ventures outside. The music is a triumph. Each of the four stars make a great job of the famous songs they are entrusted with and the numbers come thick and fast.
As Jerry Lee Lewis (Martin Kaye) belts out ‘Wild One’ and the show starts swinging. Kaye proves he is a sensational pianist, singer and all round showman. For much of the first act he steals the show, drawing the eye with his witty asides and physical comedy. Matthew Wycliffe as Carl Perkins brings an authenticity to the role which is only enhanced by his smooth vocals and gentle southern accent. It really captures the essence of Perkins. Wycliffe is an exceptional musician and he performs ‘Matchbox’ with great assurance.
As Johnny Cash (Robbie Durham) comes sauntering into the picture he exudes coolness. His deep, melodic voice more than does justice to ‘Fulsom Prison Blues’. Durham continues his wonderful performance throughout the show and becomes increasingly engaging as he shows off his prowess on the guitar.
Ross William Wild has the hardest job portraying The King himself. He does a good job, albeit somewhat stylised in order to really push the point. However, his stand out moment is a glorious rendition of ‘Peace in the Valley’. It really reminds the audience of the quality of the original album that this production derives from.
Jason Donovan (as Sam Phillips) as narrator does a good job of telling the story and keeping the show moving. He is ably assisted by Katie Ray playing Elvis’ girlfriend Dyanne. Ray also gives us some nice relief from the testosterone-filled jam session with her belting rendition of ‘Fever’.
The finale takes it up yet another notch and has the audience on their feet. ‘Whole Lotta Shakin Goin On’, ‘Hound Dog’ and ‘See Ya Later Alligator’ all bring immense joy to an audience that really wants to rock.
From the opening number to the barnstorming finale this show pumps out hit after hit from a cast with talent galore.